Friday, February 23, 2007

Organic stories redux...

Phew - good to know I'm not alone!! And great comments, everyone :-) I love hearing about how other people write.

I do feel better now, except it does worry me a bit if I do sell. Can this process be speeded up? I'm figuring it can - especially if I'm devoting a lot more time to my writing when I have a hard deadline. Part of what happened was I decided early on what the story was and kept hammering forward from there with characters and background work etc, rather than really concentrating on seeing if the story itself worked. Maybe what I'll do with the other stories I have waiting in the wings is go in and write a brief outline and start the percolating process.

Do y'all do that too? I have files for several story ideas, and some even have some minor plotting done, but I'm figuring I may need to do more than that.

Friday cat pics (are y'all ready to take away my camera yet? *g*):

Chloe LOVES fleece - can you tell? Here she's found Sean's fleece and squeezed herself onto the edge of the chair just so she can sleep on it.

Here's she's been woken up by Cleo climbing up into Sean's jacket:

and watches in disbelief as Cleo decides to climb inside one of the hanging jackets - you can just see the little nut's back legs and tail sticking out as she hauls herself up:

Chloe this morning, trying to figure out what the heck is going on with my scanner. Guess she's never been around before when I had it going. From the angle she's at, she can see the scanner thingie (don't know the tech term) actually moving. It was pretty cute watching her.

And finally, you'll note below I'm still reading The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett. Don't let the time I'm taking fool you - I'm LOVING this book. I alternate between reading and knitting, but it's also because part of me doesn't want to see this book end. It's a great story, set in a slightly unusual period (1783 Europe), with an engaging heroine and wonderful hero who is totally blown away by falling in love for the first time. There's a subplot based around a Renaissance triptych panel - I studied Art History at university, so I'm really enjoying this aspect of the novel as well.

Ok - I'd better finish off now. We're going out for dinner tonight, so I'd best go hit the treadmill!!!


Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett
Also Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Link of the Day: Julie Elizabeth Leto on Perseverance

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Middle of the night revelation...

While lying awake very early this morning, after Sean left for work, I started to mull over the problem with my plot. Yeah, I know, I keep saying I have it fixed, but then something else pops up. So, anyway, I was lying awake, focussing on my story rather than the multitude of things over which I can obsess at 3 am, and had a complete breakthrough, something that will ratchet up the conflict in my story. My hero, Henri, is searching for a traitor - he believes Madeleine, the heroine IS that traitor. So he sets out to test her - a test she will pass, but that test then sets up more of a story and their developing relationship triggers more than enough additional conflict to sustain the story (as in she doesn't want to marry or have children and he wants to marry and have a child to carry on the family name, after seeing the rest of his family butchered).

Not only did all this come to me somewhere between 3 and 4 am, BUT, I fell asleep and still remembered it when I woke up later. It took me a while to clue in that I'd figured something out, but once I did, it all came back to me. Yes, I know, I should keep a pen/paper beside the bed - BUT, not only would Cleo make off with the pen (and wake me up in the process), but if I wake up enough to write down what plot twists I've come up with, I then won't get back to sleep.

Obviously I was meant to remember this. What absolutely fascinates me about this whole process is that I've been working on planning this book (along with moving etc) for the last year or so and only now are these details coming to light. Yet something stopped me from really starting writing the story - I knew instinctively what I had wasn't quite right. For a while I actually considered giving in and moving onto something else (there are a couple of other characters who have put forward their stories to me), but I couldn't quite bring myself to do that either. Now I know why.

My question to you is, do you believe that stories have a timing all their own? That they're organic, and just need time to germinate and mature? That we need to be patient as that happens? Or are you able to come up with your plot all at once, then just go with it? Neither way is worse nor better, I'm just curious if I'm the only one for whom this kinda thing happens.


Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Also Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett
Link of the Day: More Wisdom from Kristin Nelson

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I also meant to say...

thanks for all your compliments on my Friday anniversary post :-) They're much appreciated!

Thanks also for the sympathy re my rejection. Also appreciated.


10 Odd Facts About Me...

Kelly did this meme last week. I'm stumped for other things to blog about, so I'll give it a go now :-)

1) Like Kelly, I too have OCD tendencies - checking the stove, the door etc, even thought I KNOW they're done. This is especially bad here in the cabin, when we leave the outer sliding door open and have to hook the screen door closed, lest Cleo pull it open with her claws (she figured that out pretty quickly) - I ALWAYS have to walk back and check that I've hooked the screen. The thought of losing the girls out here is pretty scary.

2) I'm psychic - my grandmother was too, so it's no surprise, but it's still kinda freaky. Nothing I can really control, but there have been enough things I've known before they happen or have just happened, and I hadn't heard yet, that I know it's not an anomaly.

3) I talk to the cats in French - they don't seem to mind and it helps me practise *g*. I'll only get worried if they start answering back.

4) TV shows about motorcycle building fascinate me. Not just American Chopper, but Biker Build-off and any other shows like that we stumble across. People who knew me as a kid would never imagine that one day I'd know who Indian Larry was or what happens in Sturgis, South Dakota every summer.

5) I LOVE rainy days. Love, love, love them. And don't mind rainy weeks either. To me there's something so cozy and comforting about watching and listening to rain fall from inside a house.

6) Office supplies are like candy for me - and I'll spend money on them instead of candy. Notebooks, notepads, pens, pencils, post-its etc.. Going to a big office supply store and just wandering the aisles is so much fun! I don't necessarily have to buy - sometimes just looking at the notebooks and binders are enough.

7) When I put knives on a magnetic knife rack, I HAVE to put them on tallest to shortest - and it drives me nuts if they get out of order. I've no idea why. I'm not generally the most orderly person around, so why this particular thing bugs me unless it's done the way I like it is kinda baffling. But there we go :-)

8) I have to be able to visualize where the people I love (family and friends) are. Every time my sister moved, I'd feel weird talking to her on the phone without knowing what the room/house she was in looked like. Same as my friends - two of them have moved since we did and I don't know what their space is like now. Am hoping they email me pics soon!

9) As a child I had fainting spells whenever I was tired and hungry or hot and hungry. The first one happened early on a schoolday morning when my mum was combing my hair - I just dropped to the floor. It also happened when I was with friends at the Governor General's Kids' Party - it was a hot summer day and my friends said I walked ahead of them and started bumping into people. They thought I was fooling around until I fell over and didn't move for a minute or two. There were other times too, but by the time I was a teenager, I'd learned to control it to an extent - if I felt it starting to happen, I'd bite my tongue and move to somewhere I could sit and put my head down. My dad freaked out totally that first time, but my mum explained she was the same way when she was young.

10) I'm a news-junkie. Yeah, I guess it comes as no surprise, considering I'm married to a newscaster *g*, but I have this need to know what's going on in the world. World Report on CBC is a must-listen for me every morning once I've heard Sean's news on CK, as is The Current.

So, how 'bout you? Are there odd things about you you'd like to share?

I took the following photo just over a week ago - Sean with the girls:


Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett
Also Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Link of the Day: The Best French Swear Words

Friday, February 16, 2007

19 years...

That's how many years together Sean and I are celebrating today:

Below is a pic of us just before we set off to our formal in a limousine:

We met in 1986 in a third-year History seminar on Medieaval England at Queen's University, became good friends in fourth year in a study group for our Crusades seminar, started dating on February 19, 1988, and married at the university chapel in 1990.

At my brother-in-law's wedding last summer, the photographer took some family photos as part of the package, including this one of Sean and me:

The years have gone quickly, and have seen ups and downs, but I'm still as happy with Sean as the first day we were together -maybe even happier :-)

In writing news, I received another rejection yesterday :-( I have to admit I'd love to know if it's my time period specifically or the query letter itself. Hmmm. Meanwhile Sean helped me out yesterday with one of my sticky plot points. As always, his background in military history and years spent reading le Carré and Deighton helped immensely - things that never even occur to me, come naturally to him. I had a bit of an Aha moment with my heroine on Wednesday, so things are starting to come together. Yay!

And, finally, later today I'll be posting over at Unusual Historicals.

Happy Friday :-)


Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett
Also Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Link of the Day: Sage advice from Miss Snark

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!All the best to everyone :-)

Enjoy chocolate in whatever form you like it best.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Some progress...

So yesterday, still stumped with my plot, I decided to adapt a technique a friend of mine used a few years ago to decide between which story to tell next. She gave her characters time to say why their story should be told and chose the most persuasive one. Now I don't have that problem, but I figured maybe I should have Henri and Madeleine tell me about their story - so I started with Madeleine. So far it's going ok. Hopefully it will help me focus on what's working and what isn't.

Have you ever read a book and skipped most of a chapter because the author annoyed you with one particular detail? I did this on the weekend, after picking up a women's fiction historical (kinda a saga, but not really, as it only covers 10 years) at a fund-raising sale for the local orchestra. It was going along pretty well, then the author chose a really (IMHO) stupid way to break up the heroine and her great love. The Big Misunderstanding. This annoyed the hell out of me and I ALMOST gave up on the book completely. BUT, I really wanted to see how the story developed otherwise, so I just skipped the really annoying section and continued on. And finished reading it last night. Overall it was a very compelling story, even though aspects of it did rather strain credulity - the number of coincidences were pretty high.

In the end I asked myself WHY I finished - what was it about the story that kept me going. Especially as the heroine was one of those beautiful women who doesn't know it, who everyone loves and all the men fall for, who makes good in a spectacular manner. You know what kept me reading? Her goal. She had a really, really strong goal and I wanted to see a) if she actually achieved it and b) how she went about getting to that point.

So, there we are - hook a reader with a compelling enough goal and the reader will keep going, even if other aspects of your tale aren't so good. (Please note - the book is not either of those listed below.)

What lessons have you learned from reading other people's work?


Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett
Also Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Link of the Day: Prep that Book! by Gaelen Foley
BONUS LINK OF THE DAY: Great advice from Agent Kristin Nelson

Friday, February 09, 2007

A grey Friday...

I was up early this am to take care of more paperwork, then drop off building plans with our builder. So much to do.

It's good to know I'm not the only one who needs to discipline herself to turn OFF the tv :-)

I've been having fun teaching my course this week - meeting new people and talking about research always makes me happy *g*.

I have to admit, though, I''m still floundering with my plotting. There's one key element missing and I still can't put my finger on it *sigh*. It's getting just a tad frustrating. You know that instinct when something isn't quite right? I know the "aha" moment will happen eventually, but for right now, I'm not too happy.

What do YOU do when this happens? Any tips?

Today's cute Cat Pics!


Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Also Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett
Link of the Day: Regency Resources from Joanna Waugh - Be sure to check out this wonderful resource!!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Writing when I can...

I spent most of yesterday either working on my course or in Sechelt arranging for paperwork for the building permit. So yesterday evening when I came back to the cabin after dinner, instead of turning on the tv, I sat down at the computer and opened PageFour Notebook. And did more work on my characters using Linda Windsor's Weaving the Synopsis worksheet. I kept at it till Sean arrived home from a meeting, with little breaks to play "chase the toy" with Cleo *g*.

I've decided that I have to cut out more of my tv watching and knit up at the house before dinner, then spend my evenings writing if I can. Ok, except tonight when The Office is on. But except for Thursdays, there isn't really much I HAVE to watch before 10pm. I'm not watching House this season so Sean and I can catch up on it together on DVD.

Funny thing is, I KNOW that once I start work, I get lost in it really easily. It's the opening of the programming and setting to work that's the issue.

Do you have to force writing discipline on yourself?


Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett (fantastic!)
Also Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Link of the Day: The Devil's in the Details by katfeete

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Busy, busy...

I started teaching my course this week, am finishing off my chapter newsletter (I volunteered for the job last month) and doing company related stuff too. Last week I did yet more character work, but am getting frustrated about not managing to make real progress. Grrr.

We're hoping to file the application for our building permit this week - yay!!

My current guilty pleasure - watching Grease, You're the One that I Want on Sunday nights. I'm a huge fan of the musical and think it's loads of fun watching the progress of those vying to be the new Danny and Sandy.

What's YOUR guilty pleasure?


Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Also Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett
Link of the Day: Research: Friend or Foe? by Stephanie Mittman

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Book Meme from Janie...

Last week Janie posted the following meme - I thought it looked like fun and saved it for the right time. Tonight's the right time :-)

Contemporary, Historical, or Paranormal? Historical novels then Paranormal. Or Contemporary - depending on my mood *g*.

Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback? I LOVE trade paperbacks. And for certain books, hardcover is great too, but for the sake of my bookshelves, mass market.

Heyer or Austen? Austen. Well, ok, I haven't actually read a Heyer (yet - she's in my TBR pile in storage). But I've loved Austen since I was 13, sooo....

Amazon or Brick and Mortar? DEFINITELY Brick and Mortar. No doubt about it. And if I HAVE to go to an online store, I go to McNally Robinson first.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? Hmmm, I'm in Canada where we have neither. It's between Chapters and McNally Robinson, and I'll always choose a McNally Robinson over Chapters/Indigo whenever possible. My bookstore of choice is an indie called Talewind in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast.

Woodiwiss or Lindsay? Woodiwiss. didn't like the one Lindsay I read.

First romance novel you ever remember reading? Shanna by Woodiwiss. At least I'm pretty sure it was Shanna - it could've been either The Wolf and the Dove or The Flame and the Flower as well. But I'm pretty sure it was a Woodiwiss. Or maybe a Roberta Gellis, no, no, I'm pretty certain a Woodiwiss *vbg*.

Alphabetize by author Alphabetize by title or random? I'm really picky - I organize by genre, time period and then by author, going by how many books by each I have.

Keep, Throw Away or Sell? I used to keep pretty much everything, but then we moved. And moved again. I've leared to give away (not throw away - I donate).

Read with dustjacket or remove it? Depends on the quality of the dustjacket. Some stay on well while I read, others don't. If they misbehave, off they go!!

Sookie Stackhouse or Anita Blake? Uh, who?

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? Usually at chapter breaks, occasionally when I'm tired.

It was a dark and stormy night or Once upon a time? I'm with Janie on this one - definitely *Once upon a time!

Crusie or SEP? Haven't read either. Have enjoyed listening to both of them speak, but as I haven't read any of their books, I can't really answer this one.

Buy or Borrow? It depends - for new authors, I'll often borrow and then buy (like Marian Keyes and Cathy Kelly). For others, I just borrow and for some, like Elizabeth Chadwick, Jo Beverley, Claire Delacroix, Kathryn Smith - I just buy. Don't even think about alternatives.

Buying choice: Uh, that answer would be waaaaaaaay too long for a single blog posting.

Tidy ending or Cliffhanger? Depends on the kind of book - if it's a romance or a mystery, I want a tidy ending. Anything else, as long as it's done well, I can end on a cliffhanger. Especially if it's a series *g*.

Morning reading, Afternoon reading or Nighttime reading? Usually afternoon or nighttime.

Series or standalone? All depends on my mood. Sometimes I like a series, other times I like a stand alone book. As long as it's well-written, I'm happy.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?
Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark (read my review)

Want to join in? I'd love to read your answers :-)


Currently Reading: The Adventurous Bride by Miranda Jarrett
Also Currently Reading: Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Link of the Day: The Georgian Man and his Wig by Elizabeth Hoyt